I have made mention often, particularly in this post, that as a small business marketer, my marketing options are really only constrained by a small business budget. The choices I have, unfettered by big corporate policy are exciting, and I am constantly bombarded with possibilities.
One facet of marketing that is often presented, and which I typically ignore, is the “Big Bad Site/Publication Advertising Pitch.” Due to my small business budget, I can’t afford to shell out 10k a month in ad spend for a PPM display ad, or a full page print ad for a broad-target publication. But primarily, anytime a big company comes after a small one, I can’t help but wonder why they want my money so badly. Consequently I usually don’t even bother even reading the proposals from said offers.
But there was this one time…
I should have known better, but I was courted, promised some pretty sweet results, and most importantly, assured that I would have long-lasting web visibility for my target audience. This company, which shall remain nameless, is a World-wide Business targeted news and information website with representation in something like 16 countries, and local writers in 13 of them.
So even though I approached this opportunity with the usual level of skepticism, the Account Rep provided some pretty convincing data, and a feasible first-time price point, to convince me to try and advertising campaign for three months. The assets included a crafted campaign focused on our Universal Imaging Utility (UIU) software and its unique ability to create a single hardware independent image that can be easily deployed to any PC regardless of manufacturer. Case Studies we provided were to support this campaign, which would correspond to targeted display ads linking to a custom designed micro-site packed with great links and content.
Fully admitting that I chose poorly, but without expounding on the details, the main problem with this ad campaign was that the assets were randomly hosted on their site with no continuity, and the display ads only appeared on our content. Needless to say, the return versus spend was abysmal.
The part that really escalated feelings of regret over having made a poor decision, was that when I contacted my rep to try and get some metrics from the campaign, she totally blew me off. Even after everything was finished, and I wrote a respectful, but data-packed email clearly expressing my tremendous disappointment with the outcome of the campaign given what she told me I could expect, she completely ignored me.
I take full responsibility for going against my better judgment of dealing with big companies offering advertising to small companies, and if I possessed a lesser degree of business tact I would be smearing this company’s name everywhere I could. But I simply must lament yet another case where a Big Bad Company duped a small business, didn’t deliver on any of the promised results, and then completely ignored them because they knew there was nothing the small business could do about it.
Needless to say, making this poor decision once is all I need to never make it again.